Friday, August 12, 2011

The Best Salsa Ever

With garden season in full swing, it must be time to make salsa!  I've tried a few versions, and I go back to this one every time.  The spices really give the salsa a nice flavor, and you can easily adjust the amounts of ingredients to your liking (spicy - add both jalapenos, not so spicy - hold back a little).  Its the perfect blend for a salsa - not to chunky, not too watery.  Its a great salsa to eat with chips, but I have also used it for other Mexican cooking, to top our eggs with, and I have even had success canning this recipe.

Annie's original recipe called for 2 large vine tomatoes and 1 can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes.  Since we have more tomatoes in our garden than we know what to do with, I just used a bunch of tomatoes, maybe 8-12 or so, depending on size.  If the batch seems like it might be too spicy, I add in another tomato or two.  I usually quarter the tomatoes and add about 6-8 full tomatoes to the food processor, then I remove the "guts" of the others so the salsa isn't too watery.  If your food processor is getting a little full, you can always process the tomatoes separately then stir everything together at the end.

The Best Salsa
adapted slightly from Annie's Eats

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and very coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, halved
8-12 large vine-ripened tomatoes, OR 2 tomatoes and 1-28oz can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. cumin
1/2 sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped (I have also used red onion, or half red and half yellow)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (more if you really like cilantro)
juice of one lime

1.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine the jalapenos and garlic. Process until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2.  Add all other ingredients to the food processor. Pulse in very brief pulses until the vegetables have reached the size you desire (it does not take many pulses so don’t overdo it).
3.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Olga's Pita Bread - BLTs and Snackers

Have you ever eaten at an Olga's Kitchen?  It might be a Michigan chain, I'm not sure.  But they have the BEST pita bread EVER!  When we were younger, my mom would take us there for a quick dinner in between dance classes.  I would get either the three cheese Olga with tomatoes and onion, or the BLT Olga.  I really just wanted anything that came with the Olga bread.
 I came across a reference to Olga bread in the meal-plan of one of the blogs I follow.  I knew I had to look up a recipe!  With bacon and lettuce on hand and fresh tomatoes from the garden, dinner was planned.

The recipe below makes 16 pitas, but I cut it in half for the two of us (made 8 medium sized pitas).  I used about half of the pita bread to make Olga's snackers - Just cut the pita into trianges, spray with some olive oil, sprinkle with spices of your choosing and bake at 375F for about 5 minutes (maybe less) - that aren't supposed to be crisp, just baked a little more.

I thought this bread was really good and tasted a lot like the Olga bread I remember.  And its really pretty easy to make.  I'm already planning to make this again soon!  But first, I need to find a recipe for their cheesy snacker dip...

Imitation Olga Bread
source: buddhabelly on

1 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup margarine
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 pkg.)
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups flour, divided
1 egg

1. Scald milk, remove to large bowl.  Add honey, margarine and salt to milk, stir until margarine is melted.  Set aside to cool until lukewarm.
2. Combine yeast, warm water and sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.
3. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to lukewarm milk mixture and beat well.  (I used the dough hook on my Kitchenaid for this.)  Mix in egg and yeast mixture.  Add remaining flour, a little at a time, until sticky dough is formed.
4.  Turn out on a floured surface, knead about two minutes.  Dough will be sticky, but don’t add more flour. (I had to add just a little more flour, it was really sticky! They still turned out fine!)
5.  Place dough in oiled bowl, turning once to oil whole surface of dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in warm place until doubled in bulk. (I left mine for about 90 minutes.) 
6.  Punch down dough; divide into 16 equal pieces.  Roll each piece to a thin rough circle about 8-1o inches in diameter (mine were a little smaller; don't worry too much about a perfect circle, she shape is distorted a little when you transfer to the pan). 
7. Heat a large dry skillet over medium-high heat; do not use any oil.  Bake 15-20 seconds, flip and bake about 15 seconds on other side, until mottled brown spots appear.  Cool and store in a plastic bag. 

For the BLTS, I just spread a little mayo on the Olga, and topped with 3 pieces of bacon, some tomato slices, and lettuce.  Very easy!

For the snackers, I cut 3-4 pitas into triangles and placed them in a bowl.  Spray with olive oil cooking spray, and sprinkle on spices (chili powder, paprika, garlic salt, sesame seeds; but whatever you enjoy would work fine).  I didn't measure anything, but just add enough to suit your tastes.  Then place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake in a 375F oven for a few minutes.  Yummy snack or side!